DURSLEY Running Club boasted a strong contingent at their showcase event of the season - the 30th Dursley Dozen, writes David Durden.

Six hundred athletes had entered the race with 450 making the journey to Dursley, they were greeted by a chilly and overcast morning. This year race was marked by a large turn out from Dursley, reflecting the club’s growth with 75 entrants and more than sixty finishers.

Up until a week ago the course was quite dry, but a week of persistent and heavy rain meant that it was going to be reasonably challenging underfoot.

From the gun there was rush from May Lane up Hilll Road with those with an eye on a top placing keen to get into the woods ahead for the masses.

James Everett led the way for DRC. Sadly for DRC Dan Anderson and Paul Hocking were not on the start line due to illness and injury, which was a blow to DRCs hopes of another win in the men's team race, with Robyn Wait missing from the DRC women’s team. Everett noticed that one of his competitors, James Pictor, was finding it easy enough to talk to him on the initial climb to the golf course, a concerning sign, as Everett was working hard at this point.

By the time the Pictor came off the golf course road and into the woods he had just over a minutes advantage of DRC’s Everett and Simon Byrne of Swindon Harriers.

Xander McInnes was next in the woods for DRC. First woman at this stage was Annabel Grainger just three minutes behind the leader with Matt Read a minute behind Grainger. Next in for DRC were Ben Amigoni, Haydn Smith and Chris Sweet. Nicki Morgan of Chepstow Harriers (F50) was second woman at this stage with a 3-minute deficit on Grainger. DRC’s Zoe Lammerton entered the woods as fifth woman with Margaret Johnson a minute or so back. By the time they reached the Quarry Pictor, now running in bright sun, was now a clear two minutes ahead. Everett’s was second with two-chasers within striking distance. Behind Everett for DRC it was MacInnes and Read, chased by Smith who had overtaken Amigoni, with Louis Rummer-Downing in the mix as well. In the women’s race Grainger had five minutes on Morgan, as Lammerton had moved into third position a further two minute or so in arrears.

DRC runners were now coming through the Quarry thick and fast, Johnson just in advance of Jadie Cotterell and Kim Bird who were working well together. There was plenty of support around the course for all the runners and the course was well marshalled. As the runners ascended to the golf course there was not much change in the key positions, with both the leading man and woman having commanding advantages that only a severe mishap would interfere with. At the finish Sam Pictor was a clear overall winner as was Annabel Grainger in the women’s category.

Pictor floated around, unsurprising for an athlete who ran a 31:29 10K in 2018 and who posted that he was achieving 20 hours training a week mid-January.

Grainger’s run was a masterclass in form and concentration. James Everett came home second overall and first for DRC.

Zoe Lammerton also continued to work hard to ensure she was not going to be caught on the run-in. She looked as strong as she had earlier on in the race as she started her decent in to Dursley. Zoe led a strong DRC women’s performance, with Johnson and Cotterall joining her to finish first female team.

Bird, Lewis and Caroline Whitlock placing third female team.

Despite missing two key runners the DRC men’s team managed second-place behind local rivals Thornbury with Everett McInnis, Smith and Read counting, DRC also supplied the fifth men’s team in the form of Amigoni, Rummer-Downing, Sweet and Jackson.

There were at least two DRC personal bests on the day, Damian Lai and Louise Biddell were very pleased to smash their PBs on the course.

There were a number of DRC athletes debuting some like Margaret Badger, a Walk to Run Graduate, and Hannah Osbourne vowing to marshal next year having experienced the challenge. DRC brought the race home with Nicki Cowle, Ben Houghton and Margaret Badger finishing in just over three-and-a-half-hours.

Overall results top 3: Male: Sam Pictor , 01:20:40, Un affiliated; James Everett , 01:23:51, (Dursley Running Club); Paul O’Mara , 01:24:29, (Tyne Bridge Harriers). Female: Annabel Grainger , 01:36:00, (Bristol and West AC); Niki Morgan , 01:46:12, (Chepstow Harriers); Zoe Lammerton, 01:48:30, (Dursley Running Club).

DRC did well in the age categories with Lammerton 1st F40, Lewis first in her category.

Johnson and Everett second and Kevin Jackson third.

Jenny Mills travelling up from Launceston, was sprightly as ever, returning to Dursley to place first F65 ahead of Kate Sackett (F55) and Alice Lewis(F60), a very impressive performance, as was Chris O’Carrol’s first pace M70 performance.

Tony Freer, race director, said: “ What an amazing day, this time being the 30th running of this amazing event which attracts runners from as far as Cornwall and Newcastle. As always, the success of this event is down to the Dursley Running Club members who, helped to mark the course, with parking, marshalling, helped at HQ and lots of other jobs. The event wouldn't run without this support.”

The Dozen was not the only event on this week. Rachel Brown and Kevin Brockway competed the 3rd Rogue Runs Night Race at Piercefield Park in the Wye Valley, whilst Chris Young was third vet male at the first Tewksbury Aquathlon of this year with an impressive sub seven-minute swim, with 24 DRC athletes running a parkrun on Saturday.